Blesok no. 43, July-August, 2005
Café do Brasil
A morning impromptu
BEGINNINGS, THE READER'S EAGERNESS FOR BEGINNINGS. THE REST IS UNIMPORTANT. THE FATALITY OF BEGINNINGS, BEGINNINGS, BEGINNINGS. – THE DAY HAS STARTED QUITE WELL. 7:12 A. M. ENCOURAGINGLY. THE BIRDS HAVE BEEN WARBLING FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR AND A HALF, PERHAPS EVEN FROM DREAMS. BEGINNINGS. THE CHASM OF BEGINNINGS. THE AUTHOR'S PLURALIS MODESTIAE. LET US GRATIFY THE EAGERNESS.
Campos Eliseos, the poorest favela in the parish of Nossa Senhora do Pilar, which is the poorest parish in the diocese of Duque de Caxios, which is the poorest diocese in the department of Rio de Janerio, is drowning in the mud of summer storms. Narrow wooden gangways lead out of the misty morning gloom, from which a dozen wretched huts peep, towards the single worn track winding through the village. Joao Antonio is walking along one of them. Like all the other men from the village he rises early. Every day at four in the morning the dilapidated train bought second-hand by the government from the Germans in 1937 takes them to work in eighty kilometres distant Rio.
Work in the coffee warehouses kills. Pay is ridiculously low. Time has shown that it is reserved for o povo de Deus – a dark people with a petrified anger in their eyes, thronging day after day into the vast town, vanishing into its suffocating suburbs. Some, without any shameless irony, have named them desaparecidos, which is not far from the truth.
Back-bent, Joao Antonio carries the sacks between the scurrying fork-lift trucks, arranging them on the wooden frames. By nine the sacks seem twice as heavy, as if every drop of sweat absorbed by the coarse sacking, from which CAFÉ DO BRASIL in capital letters shines in the sun, has become leaden in the bag.
THE REST IS UNIMPORTANT: a crazy truck driver turns Joao Antonio into a distorted mass of dark muscles; the bloodied bag is loaded onto the ship – in sailing a loosened steel hawser mangles Olaf, one of the ship's depot men so that he gazes, astonished, upwards to the cut-out of sky visible from bellow deck, lying dead on the sack with its inscription of CAFÉ DO BRASIL, now bloodied for the second time. In Marseilles the sack with the red stain is loaded into the bowels of a heavy vehicle with a shiny snout across which the letters M A C K grin and which later, in a multiple car crash, completely crushes a light, lilac-coloured Citroen Diane and its young driver, Josainette, whose final night had been spent making first-love with her handsome schoolmate, Jacques. The load is finally delivered to the roasting factory in Milan, Italy. The bloodied bag with CAFÉ DO BRASIL is in an instant too heavy for foreman Luciano so that he is forced to roast together with the increasingly fragrant beans. The coffee finds itself in kilo packs inscribed CAFÉ DO BRASIL; an ordered amount is delivered to the store of signor Arnaldo Conti in border-town Gorizia, Italy; his charming daughter Adeline – an energetic driver of a red Vespa – helps him in the shop. Whilst placing the bags on a high shelf she unluckily falls, to lie with a cracked skull, a cracked pelvis, cracked thread of life and with the bag inscribed CAFÉ DO BRASIL in her strangely convulsed hands.
7:12 A. M. I SHOOK THE COFFEE BEANS FROM THE BAG INSCRIBED CAFÉ DO BRASIL, AND GROUND APPROXIMATELY 250 DARK BEANS, SUFFICIENT FOR TWO OR THREE CUPS. EVEN BEFORE THE WATER HAD BOILED I HAD GONE OVER IN MY MIND THE BLOODY ROUTE OF THE TINY SCENTED SCARABS. NOW, WHEN THE CUP, WITH ITS INTOXICATING CONTENTS TO WHICH I'VE ADDED A LITTLE MILK, IS ON THE DESK AND IT IS 7:15 A. M. I CONFUSEDLY ASK MYSELF WHETHER I SHOULD DRINK IT UP UNCONCERNEDLY – “AS IF THE REST IS UNIMPORTANT” – AND BEGIN THE DAY BY WRITING NICE SHORT STORIES.
Translated by Anne Christine Čeh